I've Been Thinking......
Write a blog I thought, that would be a great idea I thought. Now I can just see my poor husband’s face in my mind and the expression it wears when I utter those dreaded words……’I’ve been thinking…’.
So here goes, and that noise you can hear in the background is me, kicking and screaming as the 21st Century pulls me in.
As part of my work with Rosemary and Time I often go out to give talks to local groups, the WI, garden groups, U3A and Rotary, a whole range of lovely people who kindly invite me into their meetings to tell the story of Rosemary and Time and the work we do. I always start this talk with an introduction that explains that I am a Horticultural Therapist and add my little joke that this does not mean that I look after sick plants. The level of chortles to that little gem gives me an idea of the audience I am about to address – most are very forgiving and laugh at me.
So, what is a Horticultural Therapist? For a start, it is probably an outdated title now, I think the favoured term is Social and Therapeutic Horticultural Practitioner. In real life I rarely use either, but it is a role I am very grateful to have. In basic terms I use gardening and nature-based activities to bring a bit of distraction, relaxation and fun to a person’s day. I have been doing this for over 20 years now and have been blessed to work with so many great groups in many towns.
The list of benefits any one of us can get from being outside, engaging with nature and simply getting our hands in the soil are endless. Physical exercise is of course great for the mind as well as the body, but just taking a few moments to sit quietly in an outside space and really take notice of every sight, sound, texture and fragrance around us can make a difference to the whole day.
When I set up Rosemary and Time, I had no plan of what it would become, no idea who I would work with. The various twists and turns in our path have led to me predominantly working with people affected by dementia. I do work with other groups occasionally but the impact of gardening activities on people with dementia and their family carers has really drawn me in. The main feedback I get is how people thought they probably couldn’t do gardening any more and they are so pleased to see how, with a little change in how things are done, they can still enjoy productive time outside.
So here is the plan – oh yes, I have them occasionally. Over the next few months, I will add to this Blog malarky, hopefully showing you how you can still garden no matter what challenges you are facing, be that mobility limitations, memory challenges or simply feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work involved with your current garden. Here is your starter for ten –
· Take a look at the tools you use. Could you benefit from some lighter ones, maybe some adapted tools that make the job a little easier?
· What jobs do you find the hardest? How could they be made easier? It might mean replacing your annual bedding with more perennials to reduce the amount of planting you have to do each year. It might mean getting some mulch on your plant beds to help keep the moisture in and the weeds out.
· Do you feel that your loved one is just unable to do gardening anymore? Could you bring some tasks to a table – inside or out – and engage them in some planting, seed sowing or simply putting some flowers picked from the garden into a jar, smelling them as you go?
OK, that was 3 starters for ten, but hopefully you get the idea of the things we will look at. For your sake and mine, I am hoping this will not turn into a Donna Monologue, nobody wants that! Your ideas would be so helpful to everyone that reads this so please do share them.
I think my final message would be, gardening is not about the results, it is about enjoying the experience of simply being part of nature.